At first glance, Israel may not seem to be a country with the most potential in cultivating a powerful cannabis industry. With strict religious laws and guidelines that govern the country, it would be easy to believe that marijuana is the last thing on the Israeli government’s’ minds.
Israeli scientists, Raphael Mechoulam and Yechiel Goan, first isolated the chemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, back in 1964. Without this groundbreaking discovery, much of what we know about cannabis would never have existed.
Now, with a number of new startups appearing throughout the country, many of which are branching overseas to do business with other countries, Israel is now on the fast track to becoming a global superpower in the cannabis industry.
One of the main aspects of Israel that is allowing them to make such great strides in the field of medical cannabis is their ability to conduct clinical testing on different strains of cannabis with far less hassle or legislative red tape than many other countries. Because of this, cannabis startup companies throughout the world have begun to partner with Israeli businesses in order to further along their own research at a faster pace.
“Israeli growers have agreements with companies in USA, Canada, Czech Republic and Australia. Israel has the oldest and largest regulated medical cannabis program in the world with over 22,000 registered patients. The Hebrew University holds a rich IP bank of cannabis patents. It is easier to conduct cannabis research and clinical studies in Israel than in any other country in the world,” said Saul Kaye, the founder of iCan and CannaTech.
While it is still illegal to transport marijuana across country borders due to the 1961 Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs put forth by the UN, Israel has found a loophole that allows them to clinically test cannabis for businesses in other countries. Israel’s Medical Cannabis Unit of the Ministry of Health transformed themselves into a national narcotics agency that oversees all use and transportation of narcotics throughout the country. By personally regulating and overseeing all of the cannabis related operations, Israel is able to circumnavigate the UN’s ruling in order to bring cannabis in for testing purposes.
Dr. Tamir Gedo, the CEO of Breath of Life, a manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients that can be utilized to conduct clinical trials for medicinal purposes, explains that “Israel is playing a large role in clinical trials and foreign governments and multinationals come to Israel for this purpose. In the US, the DEA does not allow for the transportation of raw materials. A company in New York cannot import enough raw cannabis to conduct the clinical trials.”
Not only does Israel have the ability to test their products with greater ease than the United States or Canada, but the naturally warm climate creates a perfect condition for the plant to be grown in large quantities. Additionally, thanks to the highly agricultural society that Israel houses, growers already possess the know-how and skills to cultivate the crop and ensure it is the highest quality possible for medicinal uses.
For example, Doron Havkin, chairman for the Israel Loss Adjusters Association, claims that it would be foolish for Israel not to utilize cannabis as a cash crop. He explains that in an agricultural sector in Arava, there is nearly 6,000 acres available for growing cannabis.
Israel is already teeming with new companies that are adding to the potential and growing immensity of the cannabis industry every day. For example, a company called BreedIt is using these advanced farming techniques to develop agro-breeding technologies to companies around the world. These new technologies would give growers everywhere an advantage in the industry, allowing them to produce high quality crops in large numbers.
Another Israeli cannabis company based out of Tel Aviv called Syque Medical has developed the world’s first dose-controlled medical marijuana inhaler. The small device can quickly and easily allow a patient to take the exact prescribed dose of medical marijuana simply by breathing in the preloaded cartridge. The device also takes different forms of cannabis, allowing for the patient to choose what works best for them and their ailments.
But, Israel is not here just to provide the rest of the world with technologies and clinical tests that the rest of the world have difficulty accessing. The country is also looking to use the medicinal effects of cannabis for its own ailing citizens.
Cannabics Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has recently partnered with Bazalet Pharma to produce medical cannabis capsules that are now available to all medical cannabis patients in the country. The capsules come in three different dosage amounts: the Hermon-SR variety with 10mg of THC, the Gilboa-SR containing 9.5mg of THC, and a 0.5mg CBD variety for those who prefer not to experience the iconic “high” brought on by THC.
The company has also announced that they will be making another of their medical cannabis capsules, called WanaCaps XR, available throughout Colorado through a partnership with Boulder’s Wana Edibles.
While Israel has multitudes of potential to break through as a global cannabis superpower, it is important to remember that Israel also has the potential to make a large profit through these practices. Echoing the ideas of Havkin, Oren Leibovitz, the editor for the Israeli website, “Cannabis”, and chairman for the Green Leaf party, a political movement for the legalization of marijuana for the country, Israel has the potential to make more money than ever if they fully enter the global cannabis industry.
“In the next few months, the exporting of medical cannabis might be approved by the Knesset [Israeli parliament], which will make cannabis the country’s #1 export, superseding weaponry and, potentially, natural gas,” Leibovitz said.
What other countries could become cannabis leaders next? Tell us in the comments.